Rangers should stay away from Erik Karlsson this summer
Come July 1, one of the biggest names on the free agent market will be All-Star defenseman, Erik Karlsson. Karlsson, who’s been linked to the Rangers multiple times before, has had an injury-riddled season out in San Jose. Although missing a chunk of the second half of the season due to a lingering groin injury, Karlsson tallied 45 points in 53 regular season games. The reasoning behind not wanting the Rangers to target Karlsson goes beyond what Karlsson brings to the ice, it includes more of what the potential contract would look like, and the years the Rangers must guarantee Karlsson to lure him to New York.
At 29 years old when is he eligible for free agency, Karlsson has stated that he wants “what he’s worth” in his next contract. Obviously, that should be the case for any player in the National Hockey League, but what he’s worth is an area the Rangers shouldn’t go too.
To put things in perspective, PK Subban is on the top of the list as far as cap hit goes for a defenseman, and he currently carries a cap hit of $9 million per year. Karlsson and Subban are certainly comparable players on the ice, and they’ve played within 50 regular season games of each other during their respective careers. Karlsson, who has played in 680 career regular season games, has a total of 563 points. Subban has played in 645 career regular season games and brings along a total of 408 points. That’s a differential of over 100 points going Karlsson’s way, and even though he is more known for his offensive mind compared to Subban, that is a large difference for two guys that have played roughly the same amount of time.
So why does this matter? Well, that’s because these dollars are going to add up for EK65. If one of the highest paid defensemen in the NHL makes $9 million per year and Karlsson has been 100 points better over his career, that’s more money for Karlsson. Especially since Subban signed back in 2014, and the cap for each team has grown each of the years. The point is, Karlsson will not get less than $10 million a year, and even that is generous. The Rangers can certainly afford Karlsson at that price, but that contract is no good for the Blueshirts. Figure they give Karlsson anywhere between five and seven years at $11 million a year, you are now stuck with a guy in Karlsson that will be in his mid-to-late 30s by the time the contract expires, while taking up a massive chunk in the cap. Don’t get me wrong, Karlsson is one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL, but with Rangers rebuilding, they aren’t competing anyways. Karlsson would give the Rangers blue line veteran experience, but would ultimately take a roster spot from a young gun looking to make a forever mark with the team.
If the Rangers were right on the brink of competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup, of course signing Karlsson would improve the team dramatically. But that isn’t exactly what this team needs right now. If all goes correctly with the rebuild and they end up signing Karlsson over this summer, it would take multiple years off of his deal; and who is to say Karlsson is still playing at this high level when the team is ready to compete? He’s played a decade in the NHL, and the fact that he is still producing sure says a lot, but who is to say he will still be the player he is today when the Rangers truly need him. Signing Erik Karlsson this offseason will take up a huge contract that the Rangers could save for a future free agent. The signing of Karlsson doesn’t leap-frog the team into contention, it just adds an All-Star player to a team that will burn the best years of his contract.